Friday, July 30, 2010

Field Day Festivities

The 2010 All Horticulture Field Day was held yesterday at the Iowa State University Horticulture Research Station. The weather was beautiful and there was plenty to see ranging from cultivar trials, sports turf seeding rate studies, fertility, disease, and herbicide trials. This has been a great year to evaluate products for their effectiveness against crabgrass will all the weed pressure we’ve experienced. Our crabgrass trial featured a new herbicide from Bayer called Specticle.

Specticle is a preemergence herbicide with some post control and offers promise in controlling crabgrass and Poa annua. Specticle just recently received federal registration and will now be available in the turf market. The active ingredient in Specticle is indaziflam.

One of the highlights of the day was watching Gary Twedt, CGCS, receive the 2010 Distinguished Service to Iowa Horticulture Award. Congratulations Gary on this achievement and all that you do for Horticulture in Iowa. Check out some pictures from the event!

I had a chance to speak about my bentgrass spaced plant trial investigating lateral spread among 24 bentgrass cultivars.

Dr. Christians speaks to a group about different bentgrass cultivars.

Dr. Minner demonstrated various methods to control moles.

Gary Twedt recieved the 2010 Distinguished Service to Iowa Horticulture Award.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

We’re Not in Iowa Anymore! Part 1

Here is another guest post from Damian Richardson who is working at the Hong Kong Golf Club. Damian's note is below:

When I did my interview with the Hong Kong Golf Club for my internship, I asked what would be some of the biggest differences I will encounter as I make such a cultural transition. Their reply, “Things will look very different.” Not only do things look different, everything seems to work different. Light switches and door locks are backwards compared to the States, I always hit my head on low hanging items in stores, and they drive on the opposite side of the road here!

As I began work, and started networking and meeting other professionals in the turf business, I have realized there are big differences in the way golf operates and is viewed out here. Here are a few statistics to look at in regards to the sport of golf here in Hong Kong as compared to Iowa:

Iowa = 56,272 sq miles
Hong Kong = 426 sq miles

Iowa = 3,007,856
Hong Kong = 7,055,071

Population Density:
Iowa = 53.5/sq mile
Hong Kong = 15,737.9/sq mile

Golf Courses:
Iowa = 441
Hong Kong = 5

People : # of golf courses:
Iowa = 6820 : 1
Hong Kong = 1,411,014.2 : 1

# Courses : Land (sq miles) Ratio
Iowa = 1:127
Hong Kong = 1:85


Being a member of a golf club is very exclusive here with one club having a membership as low as ~300 people. The Hong Kong Golf Club has a membership of 2,400 people, with a 25-year waiting list for membership. There is only one public course in Hong Kong and all others are reserved only for members and guests.

That being said, it is very uncommon for local people to have any understanding of the game of golf, and that has been a challenge when training workers to set up a golf course. With many of the workers having no understanding of the game of golf, they didn’t know why tee markers should point down the fairways and not in to the woods, or why a flagstick should be straight up and down.

While I have been here, I have gotten to meet our various chemical, fertilizer, and equipment salesmen and have learned the differences of ordering and purchasing in HK as opposed to the US. When we order chemical, fertilizer, or equipment, the waiting period maybe be anywhere from one month to six months and sometimes even longer.

It gets very expensive to just ship two pallets of fertilizer on a plane from the States, so the salesmen must make sure they have enough product to fill a container, put the container on a ship, wait for it to arrive, wait for it to be inspected and pass through customs, and then finally delivered to the purchaser. Government politics may also slow things down as well.

We purchase all our sand from China, which is then put on a compartment in a barge, floated down to HK, unloaded, and shipped by trucks to our course. We are lucky enough to have many areas to store sand on the property so we are able to take an entire compartment of a barge (800 metric tons.) The other courses in Hong Kong usually have to share a compartment when purchasing sand, as you cannot buy less than 800 metric tons at one time.

To continue to keep articles brief here on iaTURF, I will be posting another article soon about some more cultural differences on the golf course at the Hong Kong Golf Club.

Damian Richardson

Monday, July 26, 2010

Singing the Low Mow Blues

This post comes from John Newton, CGCS, Veenker Memorial Golf Course. Veenker renovated their facility during the fall of 2008. Part of the renovation involved converting the intermediate cut of rough from common cultivars of perennial ryegrass to low mow Kentucky bluegrass. John’s note is below:

After a great opening spring with some of the new varieties of low mow bluegrass, I very impressed with the color, density, winter survival, and establishment after only 18 months of establishment. It sure looked like the perfect turf for central Iowa.

Currently, it is having a real difficult time and is very thin in some areas, especially in areas of partial shade. The damage seems to be from various disease infestations and generally appears as a weak, poor looking turf. I have to say I’m very disappointing after the success with removing the annual bluegrass out of the bluegrass last fall and this spring with Tenacity herbicide.

I’m not sure about a plan of action moving forward because some of the older turf varieties right beside the low mow blues look great, along with the ryegrass, the bentgrass fairways, and some of low mow bluegrass that was treated with Heritage in mid June. The Heritage application was made to the fairways but in spots where the booms hung over into the intermediate cut the bluegrass looks great. That was our only fungicide application to our bentgrass until recently. Probably a combination of leaf spot and patch disease’s just disappointing that we now will need to treat these new varieties. One of the main reasons for the conversion was to cut our applications of fungicides and other chemicals. The bentgrass fairways so far have been great.

One thought that crossed my mind was that it may be only certain cultivars that are susceptible to the damage. The low mow blues we used were a 4 way low mow blue mix. I would be interested to hear what others who have also converted to this turf are experiencing.

John Newton, CGCS
Veenker Memorial Golf Course

Friday, July 23, 2010

What’s the Web Saying About Turfgrass, 7-23-10 Edition

Summer stresses are in full swing right now. The dog days of summer are upon us. Hang on for the ride, September 1 is only 39 days away!

Here is your list of links to articles regarding turf. Have a great weekend!

Do you care for the environment? Golf courses have long been perceived as environmental wastelands that use high amounts of chemicals and way too much water. Maybe golf is such a traditional game that even its managers are afraid of change? If we want golf to thrive in the future we need to change the way we do things so that the game is able to sustain itself.

Natural turfgrass keeps giving and giving. We all know that natural turfgrass provides numerous environmental benefits but not many people know that the growing and harvesting of turfgrass sod also plays a role in good stewardship. Although some casual observers might think that turfgrass sod producers are selling their farms an inch at a time, research suggests they are actually “growing” more topsoil as a result of sound farming practices and the natural growth characteristics of turfgrass.

Feeling the Heat. Course Conditions Suffering in the Midwest. The combined number of 90-degree days over the last two years was much less than the annual average in just one season. With plenty of moisture and the absence of intense heat, Poa annua populations increased on many courses. Unfortunately, Poa annua declines much faster than bentgrass during weather extremes, which is why it fell prey to winterkill damage this winter and why it appears to be fading during this summer's heat.

A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned. The name of the game for golf courses in these recessionary times is to keep the current standards and find ways to do so by spending less money. Managing energy costs is a complex subject, but getting started is easy. The remainder of this article will demonstrate why an energy audit is worthwhile and how someone can begin the process. Potential items to evaluate will be reviewed. Most important of all, this article will serve to help you begin the process.

Turfgrass as a sustainable part of the landscape. Dr. Charles Peacock, professor of crop science at N.C. State University, explains why turf grass plays a role in sustainable landscaping. Peacock offered these remarks during a July 12, 2010, presentation to the John Locke Foundation's Shaftesbury Society. Watch full-length JLF presentations here:

ND golf course goes green with goats. Five weed-gulping goats are being used this summer at a Bismarck golf course to rid hillsides of undesirable vegetation.

Marcus Jones
Graduate Research Assistant

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I want to encourage everyone to attend next week's field day. There will be a number of turf research projects on display. It is also a good time to bring questions and samples for identification.

The ISU Horticulture Field Day will be Thursday July 29 at the Horticulture research station. For registration information, see

Field Day presentations

1. Wine Lab. The Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute will discuss wine grape harvest parameters and their importance to winemaking. The measurements of pH, Titratable Acidity, and Brix will be demonstrated.
2. Computer Applications in Horticulture

This will be a hands-on session covering the latest in software development for the landscape industry. There will be a presentation that will include traditional computer applications as well as iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad applications.
3. High Tunnels. High tunnels extend the growing season and produce greater yields of high quality fruits and vegetables. You will get the chance to see both fruits and vegetables growing in different sized high tunnels.
4. Crabapples. Since 1985, the Iowa State University Department of Horticulture has participated in the National Crabapple Evaluation Program, and during this tour stop we will feature some of the best crabapples for the Iowa landscape. Join us as we traverse this impressive collection in search of that perfect crabapple.
5. Chainsaw safety. You will be learning the strategies to keep yourself and others safe when working with chainsaws.
6. Vineyard. Field day attendees will tour research vineyards that include wine grape cultivars, cropping and canopy management studies, and weed control and soil quality management projects. Iowa State University faculty and graduate students will provide tours and answer viticultural questions.
7. Orchard (3 presentations)

Rootstock/Cropping levels study
This orchard study on 'Gibson Golden Delicious' apple evaluates the performance of five dwarfing apple rootstocks subjected to under different cropping levels. Treatments are being monitored for differences in fruit growth rate, maturity, yield, fruit size and quality, and the ability to produce blossoms for next season's crop.

Airblast Spraying
Airblast sprayers offer an effective and economical means for applying fungicides, insecticides, growth regulators and foliar nutrients in orchards and vineyards. Compared to conventional sprayers, airblast systems allow growers to concentrate spray where less liquid is applied per acre, and at higher concentrations, less pesticide is needed to attain effective coverage. Dr. Domoto will be explaining how this is accomplished, and an airblast sprayer will be demonstrated.

Disease monitoring in Apples
This study is evaluating remotely estimated weather as a warning system for sooty blotch and fly speck on apples.
8. Aquatic Research Facility
The discussion will focus on current research on fish production with an emphasis on this year's Bluegill project.

9. Vegetables (2 presentations)

This research looks at the impact of row covers on disease and insect suppression on
muskmelons and butternut squash.

As part of a multi-state project, we are looking at "flora provisioning" as a way to increase pollination of muskmelon and squash. A strip of perennial flowers are planted to attract pollinators to the plot.

10. EarthKind Rose Trial. EarthKind is an innovative new program that addresses environmental landscape management. We will discuss the northern EarthKind rose trial planted at the Horticulture Research Farm as well as the newly established EarthKind Hydrangea trial. These two plantings are part of the nationwide trialing program of rose and hydrangea cultivars being evaluated for their suitability for inclusion in EarthKind landscapes

The student organic farm ...
11. Turf Demonstrations
* Lawn mower safety, maintenance, and selection.
* A walking tour to identify weeds, insects, diseases, and their control.
* Turf research plot tour.


Here is a post from Jay Goughnour of Racoon Valley Golf Course in Jefferson, Ia. While grub damage on Iowa golf courses is not unusual, the problem is generally from Masked Chaferes and occurs in August to October. The problem below happened in mid July. The grubs on the site are much larger than chafer grubs and appear to be June bugs. June bug larvae feed earlier than chafers, usually mid July, which coincides with this damage. June bug damage is fairly rare, however, and I have seen damage only a few times over my 31 years here in central Iowa from this species, whereas I can find chafers every year. I hope this isn't a trend. If anyone else has seen early grub damage from large grubs (1 inch in length), let me know.

Because of their size, it does not take as many June bug grubs as chafers to damage turf. While we normally look for 20 to 30 chafers per square foot to damage turf, June bugs can damage turf with populations of 5 or 6 per square foot.

Racoons love to dig up turf for these grubs. I would be worried if my golf course was named Racoon Valley.

Nick Christians

Jay writes:

July 20th. Fairway on the right was treated with imidacloprid for grubs. The rough on the left is untreated. Pretty dramatic difference. Looks like the larvae from June bugs instead of the european masked chafers I'm used to seeing.

Jay can be reached at

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Year of Brown Patch, Tim Sibicky, CDGA

Above normal daytime temperatures of 90+ degrees have been accumulating quickly (now up to 11 days in Lemont, IL), and the combination of high nighttime temps and high dew points has created a precarious situation for the rapid appearance of brown patch. This soilborne fungal disease is caused by the pathogen Rhizoctonia solani. Recent weather has been fairly dry since July 4th, and although it has been much needed for superintendents, it has added further
environmental stress to any previously weakened turfgrass plants. Damage by Rhizoctonia is now obvious (Figure 1).

Research trials on Sunshine Golf Course have been providing excellent data on product testing for dollar spot. In addition, the exceptionally conducive environmental conditions for development of brown patch have allowed us to monitor effects of the products on both diseases. Untreated plots in all replications on July 15 showed greatest disease pressures at 40% brown patch and 15% dollar spot. Visible symptoms for brown patch were most severe on untreated plots as expected (Figure 2).

Of fungicides, the 21 day interval of the Emerald treatment at 0.18 oz had highest brown patch visibility at 20%, which when compared to the control was still far less. Other treatments that showed amounts of brown patch were Chipco26GT (dicarboximide family), Insignia (QoI), and the 14d low rate of Reserve (chlorothalonil + DMI). The fungicides that performed well with no visible symptoms of brown patch disease have been Daconil Ultrex (chlorothalonil), Honor (QoI
+ carboximide), Concert (chlorothalonil + DMI), Insignia, Renown (chlorothalonil + QoI) and Reserve (chlorothalonil + DMI) at both the 21d and the 14d high rates.

Treatments that have provided the best dollar spot disease control so far include: Daconil Ultrex, Chipco26GT, Heritage + Daconil, Insignia, Concert and Reserve at 21d (high rate). Treatments of Emerald, Honor, Renown and Reserve at 14d (high and low rates) all provided good levels of disease control. All fungicide treatments provided acceptable levels of quality except for Concert, appearing off-color (due to the DMI-propizole) and with coarser visible leaves.

Tim Sibicky
Chicago District Golf Association
11855 Archer Avenue
Lemont, IL 60439

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Nick Christians
Iowa State University
July 20,2010

This is another good year for moss on greens. It may even be worse than usual because of the rain. Here are some interesting pictures from Ames Golf & CC. The first one shows a heavy infestation of moss a few feet into the green. The interesting thing about the picture is that there is no moss in the clean up pass. I do not have a theory on why this is happening and I'm interested in the observations and thoughts that others have about this phenomenon. You can reach me at Pictures would be useful. My recommendation was to add another clean up round within the first, but that would probably cause other problems, like an increase in Poa.

The second picture shows a plug cut from the moss areas on the same green. Notice that the moss penetrates at least one half inch under the surface. The final picture is of holes that suddenly open up in the green when the moss breaks down. Superintendent Mark Newton reports that these holes are a common problem in mid summer.

Monday, July 19, 2010

An Instant Classic, Kentucky Bluegrass decline, and a Big Storm

The Open Championship concluded over the weekend with first time major champion Louis Oosthuizen running away from the field for the victory. With three of the four majors completed the summer is off and rolling.

The Field Day Classic was held last week at Jewell Golf and Country Club. It was a great day despite the heat with temperatures reaching into the high 90’s and a heat index well over 100. The course was in great shape and the weather didn’t seem to hinder low scoring. Special thanks to Brian Abels and his entire staff for hosting and putting on a great event.

The hot temperatures have also been causing havoc to our cool-season turfgrasses as well. Soil temperatures are now reaching into the low 80’s causing root growth to stop. Research has shown that creeping bentgrass generally loses about three quarters of its root biomass from the end of May to the beginning of June. This natural root decline coupled with the extreme rainfall amounts during the month of June which caused roots to pull back has resulted in turf that is especially sensitive to environmental and fungal stresses.

I have seen Kentucky bluegrass beginning to decline over the last couple of weeks. The pictures below show a low-mow Kentucky bluegrass intermediate rough. After inspecting the area, the decline seemed to be the result of leaf spot/melting out disease. The disease activity was also more prevalent where the turf was under shade part of the day. Notice how the common type Kentucky bluegrass in the primary rough remains largely unaffected. Mowing height also appears to be playing a large role in the disease activity. Leaf spot can be controlled on a curative basis but applications are most effective in the early stages of the disease.

Diseases will continue to wreak havoc on our cool-season grasses the rest of the summer. For those of you with large acres of perennial ryegrass, the prime window for gray leaf spot is right around the corner.

On a side note, Ames and central Iowa had severe storms roll through Saturday night with winds reaching speeds of over 70 mph. While I kind of like severe weather I do not enjoy the cleanup. Waking up Sunday morning it looked like a bomb had went off in the neighborhood with plant debris and trees down everywhere. Luckily the picture below wasn’t from my house but wasn’t too far away. Hopefully the rest of you in central Iowa were able to avoid damage as well.

Marcus Jones
Graduate Research Assistant

Friday, July 16, 2010


I have been called out to look at a few areas this week that people thought were disease. When I started to dig in the area, the first thing I noticed was hollow sheaths that break off at the crown.

This is damage caused by bluegrass bill bugs. The insect gets its name from the long snout or bill on its head. The females use this to burrow into the sheath and lay an egg.

Here is the kind of damage that you see from the feeding. It looks like leaf spot until you look closer.

The feeding is going on now, July 16, and will continue into August. If you dig in the area you should find larvae (see below)

Here is a particularly good picture of a larvae and a pupa in the same area. The larvae change into pupa and then into adults.

This is a close up of a larvae as they appear now.

The obvious question is "should I spray now?" The answer is no. The damage is already done. You will need to treat for the adults in the spring before they lay their eggs. Egg laying generally takes place from April 15 to early May in central Iowa. Any of the common, contact insecticides will work. It is all in the timing. Once the egg is in the sheath, it is too late.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Here are some more flooding pictures and comments on recovery. These are from Russ Appel, Supt. of Briggs Woods Golf by Webster City, IA. Some are from 2008 and some from 2010. Russ has a lot of experience with flooding and recovery from flooding. He can be reached at

I'm still looking for other pictures and feedback on flood recovery. This information is very useful to those dealing with flooding for the first time.

Nick Christians

Here are Russ' comments:

Here are some pictures from 2008 and 2010. As I said before 08 was about the same as this year. Water was on the greens for about 4 days, and in fairways and on tees for over a week. The only difference was silt. The green on 13 was covered with about 2 inches of silt. We shoveled it off, and hosed the remaining off. The green looked totally dead, or dormant. I was sure we would have to reseed. The next day I went down to see if anything was coming back, and it was. I decided to let it go, and it eventually all came back. The fairways and tees never came back.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Do-It-Yourself Research: Simple, Effective DIY Tips to Improve Your Course

I often write about some of the various research projects that I have going on for the blog. While research is a big part of what we do at the University some of the best research is done by the end users, golf course superintendents themselves. On-course research is a great way to test new products or re-evaluate existing ones.

Editor’s note: The remainder of this article was submitted by Todd Burkdoll, BASF Professional Turf & Ornamentals Technical Specialist.

Every product used to manage a golf course is tested extensively before it ever gets to the maintenance building. But experienced superintendents know that products researched in other locations with different conditions may perform slightly differently on their course. To more completely understand a product’s performance on your course, do as the university experts do. Research it.

Do It Yourself (DIY) turf management research doesn’t need to be costly or complicated. Simple, scaled-down yet strategic techniques can assure you that you’re using the best tools to meet your course’s unique needs.

Common Research
Just about any golf course management technique or tool can be researched. Here is a short list of typical research subjects:

• Turf varieties – What grows best on your fairways, colonial bentgrass, creeping bentgrass or perennial ryegrass? Which variety of Kentucky bluegrass should you use in your roughs? Testing grass varieties side-by-side will help you learn what the top performers are on your course.

• Herbicides, fungicides, insecticides and plant growth regulators – Research can compare different products or one product with varying timing, rates or growing conditions.

• Fertilizers – What kind, when, where and how much?

• Cultural practices and equipment – Testing some of the many methods of aeration, top dressing, mowing, rolling and de-thatching should show you what works best for your course.

Data Collection Basics
Similar to turf test plots at universities, you should visibly mark trial areas. Extensive mowing schedules make it nearly impossible to come back to your on-course research area two or three days later and know where you applied a fungicide or tried a different setting on an aerator. Identifying plots with marking paint and routinely re-marking them so they can easily be found is crucial. It’s also important to keep a written map of all trials.

Another recommendation is to replicate research. Say for instance you want to evaluate Insignia® fungicide for summer patch control on fairway turf. Replicating the application two or three times allows you to evaluate the average of the results for a more accurate view of performance.

Always follow label instructions and use products during the same time period you would normally do so, especially for chemical products. The goal of DIY research is to learn how products work under your real-world conditions.

There are several things to consider when choosing where on your course to conduct research. First and foremost, consider what you’re studying and what the worst-case scenario might be. It may not be smart to test a new herbicide on a highly visible area of your course. Would you want to risk discoloring the Hole 18 fairway?

Choose areas representative of your course as a whole in order to fairly evaluate products. When testing fungicides or herbicides, it’s better to avoid areas with high or low disease or weed pressure. Utilizing an area that’s typical of your course will make positive results easier to replicate on a larger scale when you start using a product in earnest. Similarly, avoid areas that are topographically unique. If only one portion of your course is hilly, for example, you probably don’t want to do your testing there.

Research Partners
Don’t let the term “do-it-yourself” limit you. DIY research doesn’t have to be done without help. You have limited time and resources, and seemingly unlimited responsibilities so consider working with others – be it university researchers, manufacturing representatives or nearby superintendents. Partnering with others is a great way to continue learning and improve management techniques without being overwhelmed.

Working with university researchers can be particularly beneficial. Collaboration provides another set of trained eyes that can monitor results, provide recommendations and give insights into the latest turf management trends. It also gives university researchers a real-world venue to conduct studies. All the while it improves your course for golfers. Everybody wins.

Other Tips
• Conduct research on small plots. You don’t want to tie up a lot of the course with research plots.

• Communicate results. Post informal research results on your Web site or in your newsletter so members are aware of your efforts to improve the course.

• Beg, borrow and steal research ideas from nearby courses. Introduce yourself to other superintendents in your region and pick their brains about what they’re doing on their course. Chances are they’re doing something you should try.

• Invest in – and use – a decent digital camera. Before-and-after and side-by-side photos come in handy when evaluating research results. It’s also a great way to show off your work to your board of directors or Greens Committee.

Keep Improving
DIY research is an excellent way to make your course the best it can be without breaking the bank. It’s an efficient way to test new products, equipment and techniques so you know exactly what to expect when you incorporate them full-scale into your course management plan.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Fairy rings blooming in the Midwest

Here is a guest blog from Lee Miller, the new turf pathologist at Missouri. Welcome to the region Lee, hopefully you'll become a regular on the blog site.


Guest blogger:

Dr. Lee Miller, Extension Turfgrass Pathologist, University of Missouri

As other blogs have posted, fairy rings are currently exploding on putting greens throughout the Midwest, and Missouri is no exception. We have had plenty of rain in central MO, and most rings have stayed in the type II or green ring stage. However, some infested soils have turned hydrophobic, and even with our recent flooding rains some turf loss around ring margins has been observed. Another real problem associated with our fairy ring outbreaks and the rains has been basidiocarp or puffball production. Many are reporting having to pick over a hundred puffballs per day on their most affected greens!!!

At this point in the season, curative applications should consist of ProStar, Heritage, or Insignia applied at high rates and tank-mixed with a wetting agent. If the soil has turned hydrophobic, it is also a good idea to do some venting (not just to your spouse) by punching some holes (not just in the wall). This will hopefully allow some water through, and start to restore the balance of soil physical and chemical properties that the fairy ring pathogen has disrupted.

If you are experiencing difficulty this year, you may consider a preventive approach next spring. Recent research has shown two low rate spring applications of the DMI fungicides Bayleton, Triton, Trinity, or Tourney has resulted in good control of fairy ring in the summer. Fungicides were watered in with a ¼’ of irrigation, and best control was afforded when a wetting agent was not tank-mixed but was applied on a regular monthly schedule 2 weeks away from the fungicide application. The best timing of initial application was at 5-day average soil temperatures of 55-60°F, which should occur sometime in mid or late April in the upper Midwest. A follow-up application made 28 days later is necessary to afford the longest residual control.

The picture below shows a bit later DMI application than is recommended, but is still affording good control. DMI applications in high heat periods can cause phytotoxicity due to the growth regulating effects of these fungicides, however, with the amount of rain we have been experiencing this summer these low rate applications have not been an issue on our plots.